A Step Ahead of the Fall

Part I - Sanctuary

Fiction - Science Fiction
562 Pages
Reviewed on 04/12/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Born in the remote north of Scotland, I.W. MacDonald enjoyed a challenging childhood within a small-town community. He started working as a butcher’s boy at fourteen, a step up from doing odd jobs for pensioners and collecting glass bottles for pennies.

Leaving home at seventeen, I.W. MacDonald ventured out into the wider world, achieving an honours degree at University in Aberdeen. This, combined with his entrepreneurial spirit, saw him start a sales and marketing company while backpacking around Australia, the country he now proudly calls home.

The textbook life of marriage, buying a house, children all played out until September 11th, 2001; 9/11. This event, that seemingly came out of the blue, had a profound effect on I.W. MacDonald’s perception of reality and a search for answers began. A decade and a half deep dive into geo-politics, metaphysics, epistemology, psychology and ethics ensued.

Now emerged out the other side of the rabbit hole he’d tumbled down. I.W. MacDonald is ready to share with the world what he discovered, through a series of novels that make up the trilogy ‘A Step Ahead of the Fall’.

Come on a journey of discovery as I.W. MacDonald attempts to illuminate the principles of freedom, free speech and individual rights; all through stirring and inspired storytelling.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite

A deadly viral mutation is threatening to bring an end to society in the thrilling science-fiction novel, A Step Ahead of the Fall (Part One: Sanctuary) by I. W. MacDonald. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and 7/7, Dr. Robert Wallace warned the American and British governments that there was a high probability that an extinction-level virus could eliminate the population of the planet. However, Robert's advice went unheeded and he and his boss were released from their government positions. Ten years later, when Robert leaves for an Antarctic cruise with his wife and twin daughters, MI-5 comes looking for him. At the same time, the United States government has Dr. Spitzer and Captain Coulter and her highly-trained unit in Fallujah combating a vast quantity of the walking infected. Meanwhile, Dr. Bachmann and a select medical team are in Germany working on a vaccine. Despite the attempts of Captain Coulter, Dr. Bachmann, and Robert to keep as many people alive as possible, a threatening presence promises to disrupt their best efforts. With an extinction-level apocalypse on the horizon, the team sees very little hope in the future. Will they survive? Or are they facing the end of the world?

World governments are trying to stop a deadly virus in the exciting novel, A Step Ahead of the Fall by I. W. MacDonald. Although no zombie-like citizens are wandering around trying to eat us, this story is similar to our present global circumstances and eerily mirrors the precautions being taken. The plot moves between four different aspects and their points of view. The perspectives represented are scientists, citizens, armed forces, and the government. Even though settings and characters change, the storyline flows flawlessly. The writing and character development are comparable to a James Rollins novel or even possibly better. As this is the first installment of a series, the exponential advancement of the apocalypse continues to hold the reader spellbound to the final riveting page. The story ends at an excellent place, leaving the reader anticipating the thrilling sequel, Deep State.

Liz Konkel

A Step Ahead of the Fall: Part One: Sanctuary by IW MacDonald is a thrilling read from beginning to end that finds humanity fighting for survival against a dangerous pathogen. As the Z-Pathogen spreads, Dr. Robert Wallace finds himself at the center of the crisis as he searches for answers and does whatever it takes to keep his family safe. Captain Coulter handles things on the front line with her fellow soldiers as they embark on an important mission and work to keep sanity within containment zones. As experiments are done in search of a cure and a virus rages on, a dangerous threat grows that draws together various characters as they fight to protect those they love.

IW MacDonald delivers an exciting science fiction adventure about the call to action during a time of survival that pulls each of these characters together in search of a cure and protecting civilians. The story weaves between various perspectives that balance the primary themes of survival and family, seen through the journeys of the different characters. Action-packed moments are threaded throughout the story with growing suspense in an addictive read. The military perspective is seen through the characters of Hunter, Coulter, and other soldiers handling the growing threat of the pathogen and leading the fight for survival. The science perspective is explored through the characters of Bachman and Barwick who are handling the experiments with Bachman using Barwick’s blood in attempts to find a cure. At the heart of the story is the family which finds Robert pulled directly into the chaos and his role as a doctor draws his wife and children into the middle. The tone fits that of a military thriller with a science fiction flair that is grounded and realistic through the growing Z-Pathogen. A Step Ahead of the Fall: Part One: Sanctuary is a thrilling and harrowing tale that is a timely, relevant, and thought-provoking adventure about family as much as it is about survival.

K.C. Finn

A Step Ahead of the Fall is a work of fiction in the subgenre of science fiction and was penned by author I. W. MacDonald as part one of a continuing series. In this first volume, we are introduced to the human race as a complacent species that seems unafraid of the possibilities of the future, that is until the notorious Z-Pathogen comes along. Combining the structural elements of a zombie outbreak novel with the careful balance of military and global politics, what results is an intelligently penned action thriller with a sci-fi danger elements that still feel credible and realistic to read about.

Author I. W. MacDonald has crafted a stellar opening to what promises to be a thrilling science fiction plot, traversing the delicate intrigues of the modern political sphere and exploring how human nature itself and our own hubris can get in the way of something as innate as survival. The zombie virus trope is well used and intelligently conceptualized to form the base of the plot, with some really exciting military conflicts and action scenes that are viscerally atmospheric. Wallace and Coulter form the backbone of the lead characters, but I’d have to say my favorite was the quiet and unassuming Mr. Lydon who truly had the most devastating impact on the plot as it wound and wove through its many twists. Overall, A Step Ahead of the Fall is a tense and suspenseful read that develops into a thought-provoking and emotive disaster novel the more you delve into it.

Ruffina Oserio

A Step Ahead of the Fall is the first entry in a science fiction series by I.W. MacDonald, a narrative that explores the behaviors of a compelling cast of characters faced with the imminent extinction of humankind. This is a novel that is most relevant to the times we are living through, one that asks the question: How do people behave when faced with a global threat? With every species going extinct, humanity is faced with a dire threat: Z-Pathogen. With varied interests and greed eating into human hearts, can humanity stand together for its survival?

I.W. MacDonald has created a setting that is realistic and portrays the situation humanity is facing with the COVID-19 virus. The setting is intelligently crafted and the devastation caused by a deadly pathogen is powerful. The characters reflect the environment that has created them. There are characters who know that mankind is quickly running out of time and how they act, faced with this knowledge, is one of the factors that drive the story forward. The author does a wonderful job of handling motivation when it comes to character actions. Dr. Robert Wallace lives by family values and he will do anything to protect his family. Captain Coulter has her country and her men to protect. There is Mr. Lydon whose actions can cause more harm than good, a character who represents a mindless government that cares less about the effects of their actions on the people and the environment. A Step Ahead of the Fall is deftly written with a cunning plot. It is fast-paced and has characters that are as interesting as they are real.

Rabia Tanveer

A Step Ahead of the Fall - Part One: Sanctuary by I.W. MacDonald is a science fiction/end-of-the-world tale where the stakes are high and lives hang in the balance. What would you do if the world was ending? A viral infection has taken over and there isn’t much that can be done to stop its spread. Who knew an infection could turn families into ravenous creatures that mindlessly search for the next person who will become food. But this is the world’s reality now and it will take more than a few bullets to the head to save the remaining people. In a situation like this, what can anyone do except fight? Do you really need to stick to morals when people around you are dying? Wouldn’t you just want to save your friends and family too? When the lines are blurred and the end is near, it is every man for himself!

Scarily accurate and frighteningly real, this is a novel that will keep you up at night. It was so riveting that I didn’t want to put it down. Author I.W. MacDonald creates real-life scenarios that you know to exist in real life and he makes you wonder what would happen if all of them came true. There are a lot of characters in the story, yet they all have a purpose. They have their own dilemmas and their own progress that furthers the plot. However, out of all characters, I found Captain Coulter to be the most relatable. She is someone right in the thick of things, yet she keeps her cool and guides her team. Mr. Lydon is a really hard to like character, but even he is a strong one that makes the story interesting. The descriptions are great, the action is so intense that it had me biting my nails, and the imagery was so vivid that I felt like I was transported in the world of A Step Ahead of the Fall. This is brilliant and exceptional! Even the cover is amazing. I cannot wait for the next novel in the series and I hope I.W. MacDonald releases it soon.